New Blogs for Open Content Discovery and CC Gems

A look at new blogs for shared legal media and recent trends in open content discovery. Focusing on copyleft works and touching upon the wider social implications associated with new media technologies.
 
In a time when piracy wars and P2P spy games continue to threaten the security of innocent people, it’s always a bonus to find new sources of safe content. By sources of safe content I’m talking about services, tools and people that make legal content discovery possible. In this sense, legal applies to any type of media file or data that’s free of malicious intent, involving software or copyright issues designed to harm or make it dangerous for a person to use.
 
Here are two upcoming blogs focusing on discovering open media and podsafe material:
 
The Best Media in Life is Free is a recently launched blog focusing on public domain materials and works licensed under Creative Commons. It looks like being a great place for recommended ebooks, audio books, audio content and free music downloads. Via Mugshot Search Via BoingBoing. RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheBestMediaInLifeIsFree/ 
 
Earhead is another relatively new blog "devoted to the discovery of good podsafe music". The posts range from recommended artists and netlabel downloads to interesting audio news and cool entertainment sites. You can browse earhead link collections at http://del.icio.us/earhead and http://del.icio.us/earhead/coollist. There’s also an earhead music and gadget news blog at Bloglines. 
 
 
Open Media Blog Synergy
 
These and numerous similar blogs are providing an important platform for copyleft content producers. Such blogs compliment each other and amplify awareness of works that can be shared safely and legally, without the annoyance of DRM and copyright restrictions. Blogging, podcasting and social networking tools have made it much easier to create an alternative, grassroots media culture. The new generation of DIY media blogs are becoming more sophisticated as developments like Creative Commons, netlabels and widgets provide greater interoperability, connectivity and media circulation.
 
Bitty
An example of this is DJ Martian’s use of OPML and Bitty Browser to share the latest music blog updates. The Music Blogosphere mini-browser can be embedded in any "open" blog or Web page, including start services like Google, Live.com, Netvibes etc. I first mentioned Bitty Browser in July 2005, shortly after its launch. Since that time, music labels like Magnatune and Beatpick, have seen the benefits of using branded versions of Bitty to market their artists. The Bitty platform allows streaming of songs, podcasts and videos including media from popular services like del.icio.us, Google, ODEO and YouTube.
 
RSS – OPML
Here’s a Bitty Browser for DISS that uses the site RSS feed. Windows Live Spaces RSS feeds include blog posts, photos and lists, so DISS in  Bitty format provides access to hundreds of resources. Bitty’s OPML feature lets you browse powerful keyword based searches when used with OPML generators like TagJag and OPML Generator. For example, this Blog Search Bitty Browser lets you access Google, Feedster, Technorati, PubSub and Gada.be (TagJag). The OPML source is via Taskable, a very useful RSS and OPML browser tool that sits on the Windows taskbar. More gadgets and widgets can be found via Widget Finder.
 
Army
There’s an army of bloggers and podcasters actively engaged in the promotion of copyleft content which is good news for artists, writers and people generally. Here are a few examples of copyleft music blogs and open media resources.
  
Citizens Media: Ourmedia
Copyleft/CC Music: Copyleft Music, Indieish 
Netlabel Releases: ACOWO, Britney, nwlRUBored
Remix Community: ccMixterBlog 
 
Creative people are taking advantage of the situation to get their works promoted and distributed online for little or no financial outlay. A recent feature on the GarageSpin blog about the success of DIY musician Jonathan Coulton is worth mentioning. Jonathan uses Creative Commons for his licensing which means others are free to use his songs in their own works. On the sidebar of Jonathan’s blog there’s a list of podcasts that play his material. I counted 119 podcasts, an impressive achievement considering how important it is for unsigned bands to get noticed. Here’s his MySpace.
 
 
Lightnet or Darknet?
 
Ironically, the future web may become overly "wired" for some users. People wishing to remain anonymous or out of the "monitored" loop could likely turn to Darknets in an effort to retain control over some facets of their digital identities. Why would an individual, band or project wish to remain anonymous? Copyright laws are one reason. People using uncleared samples and chunks of copyrighted works in mashups and remixes can run into difficulties when making these materials available on the web. Some may find it advantageous to bypass the heavily monitored and overcrowded social networks (and Terms Of Service) by opting for completely private channels of communication and distribution. In the music underground, commercial gains are not necessarily the driving force behind creativity. There are other considerations that involve trust, sharing, freedom of information, security and privacy. For further insight see Lucas Gonze’s examples of Lightnet and Darknet.
 
Pirate Party
On August the 14th, the Pirate Party launched the world’s first commercial Darknet – Relakks. Here’s the digg conversation and an excerpt from the press release:
"Today, the Swedish Pirate Party launched a new Internet service that lets anybody send and receive files and information over the Internet without fear of being monitored or logged. In technical terms, such a network is called a "darknet". The service allows people to use an untraceable address in the darknet, where they cannot be personally identified."
 
"But there are much more fundamental values at stake here than copyright," Rickard Falkvinge says. "The new technology has brought society to a crossroads. The only way to enforce today’s unbalanced copyright laws is to monitor all private communications over the Internet. Today’s copyright regime cannot coexist with an open society that guarantees the right to private communication."
 
This Cultural Shift
 
New media technologies are enabling the formation of tribes (colonies), where like minded people with similar interests and desires can gravitate for new forms of interaction. Significantly, these technologies are fueling a re-evaluation of our cultural heritage. For example, if you’re a classically trained musician waiting for employment with an orchestra, you may be waiting a long time. Usually until someone leaves a vacant position for you to fill. Consequently, many musicians will adopt a DIY approach to work, rather than wait for a position to present itself. Some musicians will inevitably step outside of traditional cultural institutions, to create their own, new, independent business opportunities. I’m thinking of projects like The Heritage Orchestra in the UK, a collective of trained musicians with a DIY attitude. These guys are questioning their so called cultural heritage and what it means to be a working musician. Why wait when you can collaborate?
"The Heritage Orchestra is a pioneering cross-genre 40 – 60 member ensemble that ignores classical elitism, and refuses to be a part of the new glossy classical-corporate movement; both of which are diminishing the long-term integrity of orchestral music in the UK. So whilst the British music scene struggles between purest and popular representations, The Heritage Orchestra leads a defiant new musical direction fueled by daring reinterpretations, complex collaborations, fresh compositions, and the most exciting performances in town." Source
This cultural shift is occurring partly because it’s now very easy for people to exchange information via new media publishing tools. Contrary to ill informed opinion, platforms like Live Spaces, MySpace, YouTube etc, are not about rampant masses of teens craving their fifteen minutes of fame. Social media technologies are useful and appealing to all generations across all types of communities. They inform and help people engage with the world around them; friends, family, strangers, groups, communities, news, events, etc. Culturally diverse artists sit comfortably side by side on MySpace, where they share certain commonalities like friends. For example, Daft Punk and the Master Musicians of JouJouka both have plots on MySpace, along with millions of other users.
 
Peter
Seventy-nine year old widower Peter, uses a home computer and Web cam to record his life story monologues, which he shares with the world on YouTube. Peter surpassed one million views of the first video he uploaded within a week. His efforts have been reported on various news channels, web sites and newspapers. These include the BBC, Daily Mail, Daily Star,  Sky News, USANews and other mass media outlets. Surely that level of exposure would bring a tear of joy to any self respecting media professional. As Peter says, it’s addictive.
 
Peter’s a good example of the personal media revolution. We are the media and almost anything is possible.
 
 
Open Content Resources
 
 

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